OCEANOS is a super family game for 2-5 players aged 8+. After the first game, where you have had to punch out all the super strong heavy card game components, games take between 30-45 minutes.
There are numerous colourful components which include 75 Submarine sections, 135 Exploration cards, 30 Treasure Tokens, 15 Fuel tokens, 15 Scuba Diver tokens, 9 Kraken tokens, 1 Drawstring Bag, 1 Scorepad and 5 Player Aids.
Each Submarine consists of an Airlock (front), Aquarium (Mid-Section), Motor (Rear), Propeller (end piece) and a Cockpit and these each have three parts (upgrades from 1 to 3).
The cards are split into three decks, one deck for each Round; 40 for Round 1, 45 for Round 2, 50 for Round 3. The Scuba Diver tokens are colour coded to match each Submarine as are the Fuel tokens (though it's a little difficult to distinguish the colours on these as it's rather pastel).
The Game Rules Booklet is excellently laid out with just 9 pages of Rules enhanced by Jérémie Fleury's eye-catching artwork (as is the complete game), 1 page of Variant and 2-player games and a back page of game designer, illustrator and game symbol information.
The Winner of the game is the player who has the most "stars" at the Game End; stars collected from their Submarine, Treasure Tokens plus 1 star for each Coral in your largest Coral Reef (cards that are orthagonally adjacent with Coral pieces on them).
Players begin the game with all the Submarine pieces, Scuba Divers and Fuel Tokens in their chosen colour. They then build their first Submarine using all the pieces with one red circular mark on them - this will give them a zero valued Propeller, a 3 valued Aquarium, one Scuba Diver and one Fuel Token. The completed Sub is placed on the table in front of each owning player. The Treasure Tokens are shuffled and placed in the Drawstring Bag, three Kraken tiles are randomly stacked (one of each size) and the cards are separated into three shuffled decks; now the game is ready to play through its three Rounds of five turns per Round.
Oceanos uses the card dealing mechanic where the players are given a number of cards each turn and have to keep one to use and pass the others on. The card dealer is known as The Captain and he/she is not dealt any cards initially, instead they are given the cards, all of them, that are discarded by the other players. This means that the Captain often has numerous cards to select one from, but they still select only one.When ready all players flip over their selected card and place it face up in front of themselves. As they continue to select cards they build the cards into Rows, playing the cards left to right with no option as to their placement except by consuming fuel - each Fuel Token used allows for an extra card to be placed that turn. The Scuba Tokens are placed on Treasure Chest cards and score for that chest or chests and for each chest they pass as they swim in a direct line upwards. Therefore it is usually a good idea to place your Scuba Divers on the third row if you have managed to place your chest cards in the best positions; of course that's not always possible.
When playing cards you need to try to place Crystals (Yellow and/or Green) before you place Bases so that you can upgrade the segments of your Submarine. You need one Crystal, Green or Yellow, to upgrade from level one to level two and two different Crystals (one Green and one Yellow) to upgrade from level 2 to level 3. You cannot upgrade from level 1 directly to level 3 even if you have 3 Crystals (2 of one colour and 1 of the other) laid before the Base card.Round you may There is another aspect to consider when you are laying your Exploration cards into a row and that is the Kraken Eyes - red button-looking symols that are on some cards. If at the end of the Round you have the most Kraken Eyes in your Row (you only count the current Row - Top Row is first Round, Middle Row is second Round and the Bottom Row is the third Round) you flip over the top Kraken Tile and reduce your score accordingly. The game ends at the completion of the third Round and all scores are totalled.
OCEANOS plays in the short time you would expect a family friendly game to and yet it has elements that core board-gamers will more than appreciate.The grouping of Corals, the Scuba Diver gathering Treasure Chests and the required placing of Exploration cards to gain Submarine upgrades, all point towards this being a "gamers" game, while the cartoon sea-creatures, the Baby Kraken with its Dummy, and colourful illustrations, along with the simplistic rules that are laid out in such a clear fashion, it displays all the requirements of a game that young kids will enjoy with their Mums and Dads.
As a collection of games players that age from 4 through to over 70 the Games Gazette appraisal team have voted this one of the most entertaining and fun games of the last twelve months, and at around £30.00 it is very good value.